Meet the 2024 Faculty Mentoring and Faculty Service Awardees

The awards honor exceptional commitment to mentoring and contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion at Columbia

May 24, 2024

The Office of the Provost announced the recipients of its annual grants and awards this week, including the Faculty Mentoring Awards and Faculty Service Awards. These honors are presented to faculty who display exemplary commitments to mentoring junior faculty and to advancing the University’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, respectively.

“Our Faculty Mentoring and Faculty Service awards are among the highest honors we confer at Columbia,” said Provost Angela Olinto. “They celebrate those who embody our shared commitments to the highest level of scholarship by mentoring a diverse group of leaders who advance their fields while creating a working environment where all scholars can thrive. It is our pleasure to bestow these honors and recognize the exceptional faculty who make Columbia one of the preeminent universities in the world today.”

2024 Faculty Mentoring Awardees

The Faculty Mentoring Award recognizes senior faculty who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to mentoring junior faculty. Awardees are nominated by their mentees in recognition of outstanding mentorship including advice and guidance on research activities, work-life balance, professional opportunities, and teaching skills. The award honors the legacy of Columbia Business School professor Katherine W. Phillips.

Henry P. Monaghan and Rhiannon Stephens

Henry P. Monaghan, Professor of Law

Henry P. Monaghan’s 40-year tenure at Columbia has produced a long list of grateful mentees. His nominators cited his penchant for giving generous feedback, noting that his name is “ubiquitous” in the acknowledgements footnotes of Columbia Law School faculty publications. “I knew I could come to Henry for advice and guidance on any subject—though I often had to wait my turn because of the long line of colleagues who did the same,” said former student and Monaghan mentee Gillian Metzger, the Harlan Fiske Stone Professor of Constitutional Law.

“For nearly 40 years, Henry Monaghan has not only been among the most productive and influential members of the Columbia Law faculty,” said Gillian Lester, Dean of Columbia Law School and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law. “He has doubtless helped to launch the careers of more legal scholars and practitioners than any other member of our faculty during the past half-century.”

Rhiannon Stephens, Professor of History

Rhiannon Stephens was nominated for her commitment to mentoring junior colleagues and advocating for their success within their department and across the university. She has been a member of the faculty since 2011 and has served on numerous faculty governance committees, like the Junior Faculty Advisory Board and the Policy and Planning Committee, and has advocated for more robust childcare support and other changes to alleviate burdens on junior faculty. Stephens is celebrated for supporting interdisciplinary researchers and for mentoring colleagues at other institutions. “She has simply offered ongoing, thoughtful, empathetic, judicious guidance,” said Hannah Farber, Assistant Professor of History.

“Rhiannon is in equal parts an intellectual and a personal mentor: She sees the whole person and understands the importance of the material and psychological conditions that make teaching and research possible,” said James Stafford, Assistant Professor of History. “[She] really goes above and beyond to support the goals of the faculty mentoring program.”

2024 Faculty Service Awardees

The Faculty Service Award recognizes faculty who have made significant contributions to the University’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals. Recipients are awarded for their efforts to create a more inclusive and supportive environment at Columbia and beyond, cultivating a record of innovative and impactful service in the process. Contributions may include longstanding service on DEI committees or development of DEI programming that impacts Columbia and its neighbors.

Top: Gita V. Johar and Elisa Konofagou. Bottom: Yamile M. Martí Haidar and Kendall Thomas.

Gita V. Johar, Meyer Feldberg Professor of Business

Gita V. Johar’s 32-year tenure at Columbia Business School has been defined by several leadership roles, including her service as the school’s inaugural Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In that role, Johar established DEI priorities for the school, launched committees and workshops around equity and inclusivity, and championed other initiatives promoting these shared values in and out of the classroom. Among other leadership roles, Johar was nominated for her extensive service across various committees, including the Provost’s Advisory Council for the Enhancement of Faculty Diversity.

“Gita’s extraordinary service to build a more inclusive community and curriculum has had far-reaching impact on the experience of underrepresented individuals, on Columbia Business School, and Columbia University—both at the individual level and institutionally—through her successes in building inclusive infrastructure at the School and University,” said Costis Maglaras, Dean of Columbia Business School and the David and Lyn Silfen Professor of Business. “I know of no one more deserving of this important recognition for her career-long commitment to this work.”

Elisa Konofagou, Robert and Margaret Hariri Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Radiology (Physics)

Elisa Konofagou was recognized for her commitment to fostering a more inclusive and supportive research environment at Columbia. She is chair of her department’s DEI Committee and has been an advocate for diversity and inclusion initiatives within the Faculty Senate. As part of community outreach efforts, she and her lab have been host to more than 45 summer school interns through programs like NYU G-STEM, Hypothekids, and others. 

“As Chair and Co-Chair of the DEI committee in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME), Professor Konofagou has demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication since 2020. Her role in coordinating with students across various levels to document and address their concerns has been pivotal in fostering a more inclusive academic environment,” said Paul Sajda, Chair and Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Radiology. “Her efforts have significantly impacted the community, ensuring diverse voices are heard and valued.”

Yamile M. Martí Haidar, Associate Professor of Professional Practice

Yamile M. Martí Haidar's work is deeply rooted in social justice. She studies the development of resiliency and coping skills for children and women in crisis or facing adversity, interventions that promote positive mental health, psychoeducation, and international social work. As an instructor, clinician, and researcher, Martí consistently focuses her efforts on promoting diversity, intersectionality, equity, and inclusion. Her approach to curriculum development at the Columbia School of Social Work has included spearheading new initiatives like specialized courses and international travel programs that afford students an opportunity to engage with diverse perspectives. “[Dr. Martí] exemplifies what it means to be of service within Columbia University and the broader community by centering everything she does in the critical values of social justice and anti-oppression,” said Amy Kapadia, Lecturer in the Discipline of Social Work.

“Dr. Martí is an emerging star in curriculum development at our school and she is highly respected by faculty, students, and administrators,” said Melissa D. Begg, Dean of the Columbia School of Social Work and Professor of Social Work and Biostatistics. “She has made innumerable contributions to our curriculum, to our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, to our local communities, and to our global reach.”

Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law

Kendall Thomas’ nominators lauded his groundbreaking scholarship, advocacy, and community building, particularly in support of marginalized groups. His nearly 40-year tenure at Columbia has been marked by foundational contributions to critical race theory and cultural legal studies of sex, gender, and sexualities. Thomas is founder of the Columbia Law School’s Studio for Law Culture and leads the school’s Naming and Symbols Task Force. “In every arena—scholarship, teaching, institutional service, and community engagement—Professor Thomas has had a transformative impact on how his colleagues, collaborators, and students think about race and social justice,” said Susan Sturm, George M. Jaffin Professor of Law and Social Responsibility.

“Not only has he shouldered significant committee assignments alongside his teaching responsibilities, he is among the most sought-after mentors and supporters among students of color and LGBTQ+ students,” said Gillian Lester, Dean of Columbia Law School and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law. “Perhaps best described as a servant leader, he is bold and unflagging in his commitments, while also able to inspire generations of law students, faculty, and alumni to join him along the way.”

The Faculty Mentoring and Faculty Service Awards are part of a broader suite of awards presented annually by the Office of the Provost. For a full list of grants and awards conferred for Spring 2024 and Fall 2023, see the Announcement of the 2024 Office of the Provost Faculty Awardees.